Showing posts from June, 2016

The First Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church

The Coliseum Rome, Italy From My Personal Photo Collection
On the day after the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, we honor the first martyrs of the Roman Church. They were victims of the Emperor Nero, who blamed Christians for a fire that destroyed most of the city of Rome in the year 64. These Christians were arrested, interrogated, and brutally murdered for Nero's personal entertainment. They were thrown to the wild beasts in the arena or soaked in tar and used as living torches. Their deaths are documented in the writings of the Roman historian Tacitus and in Pope St Clement’s letter to the Corinthians.

Pope Clement encouraged His flock, "We are placed in the same arena, and the same contest lies before us. Hence we ought to put aside vain and useless concerns...Let us fix our gaze on the blood of Christ, realizing how precious it is to His Father, since it was shed for our salvation and brought the grace of repentance to all the world."

Sts. Peter and Paul, Co-founders of the Church

June 29 is the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, who are the co-founders of the Church - the solid rock on which it was founded. Both were martyrs for the faith.

St. Peter

Peter's original name was Simon. He was a fisherman and the brother of Saint Andrew, the apostle who led him to Christ. As an apostle of Christ, Simon was renamed "Peter" (in Hebrew Kephas) or "rock" by Jesus to indicate that Peter would be the rock-like foundation on which the Church would be built.

Peter's house often became the scene of miracles, since Jesus would stay there whenever He was teaching in that locality. Together with his brothers John and Andrew, Peter belonged to the first of Jesus' disciples.

After the Ascension, Peter took the leading role that Christ had assigned to him and became the first Pope. He served as the first Bishop of Rome and died there as a martyr in 64 a.d. crucified with his head downward, as he was not worthy to die in the same manner as Christ.


St. Irenaeus: Bishop and Father of the Church

The saint of the day for June 28th is St. Irenaeus (c.130 - c.200), Bishop of Lyons (France) and Father of the Church.

Irenaeus was born in Smyrna (modern-day Turkey), although he later settled in Rome. He was well -educated and was influenced by men who knew the Apostles, especially St. Polycarp, who had been a student of St. John the evangelist.

Irenaeus served as a priest of the Church of Lyons during the Christian persecution under the reign of Marcus Aurelius,  the pagan Roman emperor (161–180). Many of the clergy from Lyons were imprisoned for their faith. In 177, he journeyed to Rome carrying a letter to Pope Eleuterus, urging him to deal with the heresy of Montanism, which was now flourishing in the East. While Irenaeus was in Rome, a massacre occurred in Lyons. A persecution broke out, and some of the leaders of the Lyons church were imprisoned, while others suffered martyrdom. Thus, he did not share in the martyrdom of his fellow Christians.

When he returned to France, Ire…

The Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help

Today, June 27, the Church celebrates the feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. I have had a long-time devotion to Our Blessed Mother under many titles, but began praying to Our Lady of Perpetual Help early in my childhood and continue to pray for her intercession today. She is such a sweet mother who always asks Jesus to grant me that which will draw me closest to Him.

The Icon

The icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help is perhaps the oldest actual icon of the Blessed Virgin. According to tradition, St. Luke wrote an icon of Our Lady while she was still living in Jerusalem. When she saw the beautiful icon of herself holding the Child Jesus in her arms, she blessed both the artist and his work proclaiming, "My grace will accompany this icon."

The passage of centuries has proven that Mary did not forget this promise. So numerous were the miracles and favors granted by means of this Holy Icon, Pope Innocent III in 1207 stated that Mary's soul seemed to have entered into this ic…


Goodreads Book Giveaway

Learning to Love with the Saints

          by Jean M. Heimann

            Giveaway ends July 09, 2016.

            See the giveaway details
            at Goodreads.

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Discernment 101

Fr. Mike Schmitz explains ​that it is best to focus on one thing at a time when discerning a vocation. Not only is it most prudent to discern ​​just one vocation at a time;​ ​it is​​​ also important to take discernment ​one step at​ ​a time. When we discern with this kind of care and commitment, the path God desires for us should become clear.

St. John the Baptist, Bonfires, and Celebrating "Summer Christmas"

Today is the solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. How will you celebrate this great saint's birthday?

St. John the Baptist was a prophet filled with a fiery zeal for declaring Christ’s coming and the need for repentance. We know that he was "filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother's womb" (Luke 1, 15).  Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he leapt with joy in his mother’s womb when he met Jesus for the first time, proclaiming the Gospel message in utero. When he was thirty, he preached on the banks of the River Jordan against sin and urged men to repent and be baptized "for the Kingdom of Heaven is close at hand."  He attracted large crowds (“people of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem”) and led them to conversion. Like a lantern, he lit the way for many who were lost in the darkness. He led them to the Light (Christ) and out of the darkness of sin. We also know that the birth of St. John the Bap…

St. Joseph Cafasso: Apostle of Hope

Today, June 23, we honor St. Joseph Cafasso, an Italian priest who was a social reformer in Turin during the 19th century. He is the patron of prison chaplains, spiritual directors, and prisoners. He is known as the "Priest of the Gallows".

He was born on January 15, 1811 in northern Italy, about twenty miles from Turin. Joseph Cafasso was the third of four children. His parents, who were known for their charity to the poor, were small farmers who had to supplement their scanty income by working on neighboring farms.

Although he was born with a deformed spine, Joseph did not allow this defect to influence his desire to do penance. Even in his childhood he had certain days set apart for penance, and he fasted every Saturday in honor of Our Blessed Lady. He also attended daily Mass, at which he often served. He was gifted with a keen intellect and a good memory, and was first in his class at school.

He was ordained a priest in 1833 at the age of twenty-two. After Ordination, …

Sts.Thomas More and John Fisher, martyrs

June 22 is the feast of Sts.Thomas More, martyr, and John Fisher, bishop and martyr. St. Thomas More was born in London, England and was Chancellor of King Henry VIII. He was a devoted, loving husband and father and a dedicated public servant.

St. John Fisher studied Theology in Cambridge and became Bishop of Rochester. He and his friend St. Thomas More gave up their lives in testimony to defend Church unity and the indissolubility of the sacrament of Matrimony. Both men had well-formed consciences and were willing to die for the Truth.

St. Thomas More
Thomas More was born in 1478, son of the lawyer and judge John More and his wife Agnes. He received a classical education from the age of six, and at age 13 became the protege of Archbishop John Morton, who also served an important civic role as the Lord Chancellor. Although Thomas never joined the clergy, he would eventually come to assume the position of Lord Chancellor himself.

More received a well-rounded college education at Oxford…


Lord Jesus, You came to heal our wounded and troubled hearts. I beg You to heal the torments that cause anxiety in my heart; I beg You, in a particular way, to heal all that are the cause of sin.

Lord Jesus, You know my burdens. I lay them all on Your Good Shepherd's Heart. I beseech You -- by the merits of the great, open wound in Your heart -- to heal the small wounds that are in mine. Heal the pain of my  memories, so that nothing that has happened to me will cause me to remain in pain and anguish, filled with anxiety.

Heal, O Lord, all those wounds that have been the cause of all the evil that is rooted in my life. I want to forgive all those who have offended me. Look to those inner sores that make me unable to forgive. You Who came to forgive the afflicted of heart, please, heal my own heart.

Heal, my Lord Jesus, those intimate wounds that cause me physical illness. I offer You my heart. Accept it, Lord, purify it, and give me the sentiments of Your Divine Heart. Help me to…

St. Aloysius Gonzaga

by Jean M. Heimann

The saint of the day for June 21, Aloysius Gonzaga (1568-1591), was the firstborn in a highly wealthy and influential Italian noble family.  His father was a famous mercenary soldier.  Aloysius assumed adult responsibilities at an early age. He began his training as a soldier and courtier at the age of four and, when he was only eight, served in the court of Grand Duke Francesco I de’Medici. While serving in the court, he studied in Florence, where he received an excellent classical education.

In Florence, Saint Aloysius became ill with kidney disease, and in the process of recovery spent time in spiritual reading and prayer.  At the age of nine, Gonzaga made a private vow of chastity.

At the age of  twelve, he returned home to his father’s castle, where he met St. Charles Cardinal Borromeo, who gave him his first Holy Communion.  Shortly thereafter, Aloysius began to teach catechism to young boys. Much to the displeasure and anger of his father, Aloysius stated his…

Learning to be Alone

Being alone isn’t supposed to be scary. In this video, Fr. Mike Schmitz shows us how solitude can be an invitation and doesn't have to lead to loneliness. God himself has revealed to us how he is a relationship of love between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Made in his image, we are also made for relationship—with God and with one another. When we feel alone, it is because we were made to give ourselves to others as God gives himself to us.

Novena to Sts. Peter and Paul (Feast June 29)

June 29 is the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, who are the co-founders of the Church - the solid rock on which it was founded. St. Paul is the patron of evangelists and St. Peter is the patron of the papacy. They were both "fishers of men" who put out their nets and reeled in many men to Christianity. Let us pray that we may imitate them in sharing the Good News with others.

Novena Prayer (Pray for nine consecutive days)

Holy Apostles, Saints Peter and Paul, I choose thee this day and forever to be my special patrons and advocates.  Thou, O Blessed St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles because thou art the Rock upon which Almighty God has built His Church.  Thou, O Blessed St. Paul, because thou were chosen by God as a vessel of election and preacher of truth to the whole world.

Obtain for me, I humbly pray thee, lively faith, firm hope and burning charity; complete detachment from myself, contempt of the world, patience in adversity, humility in prosperity, attention in prayer, p…

St. Florence: nun, abbess, and founder

Today is the feast of St. Florence, also known as St. Florentina, a cloistered nun and abbess. She was the founder of a religious community.

St. Florentina was born in the middle of the sixth century in Cartagena, Spain. Her family was very devout and actively involved in living out their faith and in promoting Christianity. Florentina was the sister of three bishops: Leander, Isidore of Seville, and Fulgentius. All three brothers are saints.

Florentina’s parents died when she was young; therefore, her older brother Leander became her guardian. Leander had been a monk, prior to becoming a bishop, and it was through his encouragement that Florentina embraced the cloistered life. She consecrated her virginity to God, associated with other consecrated virgins, and formed a religious community. They took up residence at the monastery of St. Maria de Valle near Ecija (Astigis), where her brother Fulgentius was bishop.

Leander wrote the rule of life for her order. Florentina entered with g…

Happy Father's Day! A Tribute to the Fathers in My Life

Celebrating Father's Day (the third Sunday in June) is a tradition in the United States. This is a day for the entire family to go to Mass and to pray for fathers and grandfathers.

Today is a day to be thankful for fathers and all that they do and have done for us. As I remember my own father who went Home to His Heavenly Father several years ago, I remember how much he loved me, my mother, and our entire family. He was a wonderful provider for our family, of course, and to this day I can hear his voice saying, "Never miss a day of work." And, he never did.

But more than that, I remember how he led our family in the faith - how he always drove us to Mass and insisted that all seven of us arrive there at least fifteen minutes before Mass began (This wasn't easy with five women and only one bathroom in the house.) I remember how he was actively involved in the Holy Name Society and the Knights of Columbus, and how he led us in the holy rosary and encouraged us to sing…

Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help

The Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help begins June 18 and ends on June 26. The feast day of our Lady of Perpetual Help is on June 27. Our Lady of Perpetual Help is patron of the sick, police, paratroopers, and grocers.

Novena Prayer

Oh Mother of Perpetual Help, grant that I may ever invoke your powerful name, the protection of the living and the salvation of the dying. Purest Mary, let your name henceforth be ever on my lips. Delay not, Blessed Lady, to rescue me whenever I call on you. In my temptations, in my needs, I will never cease to call on you, ever repeating your sacred name, Mary, Mary. What a consolation, what sweetness, what confidence fills my soul when I utter your sacred name or even only think of you! I thank the Lord for having given you so sweet, so powerful, so lovely a name. But I will not be content with merely uttering your name. Let my love for you prompt me ever to hail you Mother of Perpetual Help. Mother of Perpetual Help, pray for me and grant me the favor…

7 QT: Answered Prayer, First Blessings, Saints, and Cats

1. This has been a week filled with both consolations and desolations. On the day when I was feeling most discouraged, the knock-out rose bush, which my husband gave me for Mother's Day last year had its first bloom. I took it as a blessing and as sign from St. Therese of Lisieux that my prayers were being answered. ( particularly since there were no blooms on that rose bush last year). Indeed, a few days later, more than one prayer was answered. Thank you, St. Therese for your intercession.

2. We were blessed this past week to be visited by the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. We attended the Thanksgiving (for Ordination) Mass of a newly ordained Franciscan priest of our parish, Fr. Xavier, who gave us his first blessings. The Friars also had Eucharistic Adoration with a talk and Confession. That was the best confession I have had in years! During the music at Adoration, I felt as if God was personally speaking to me through the Friar's voice. I yearn to have a priestly relig…

St. John Francis Regis: Priest, Missionary, Social Reformer

By Jean M. Heimann

The saint of the day for June 16 is St. John Francis Regis, a French Jesuit priest who served God as a missionary and social reformer.

The son of a wealthy merchant, John Francis was so captivated by his Jesuit educators that he himself entered the order at age 18. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1631. Following his ordination, he worked as a missionary in numerous French towns. His homilies reflected his great fervor and zeal for the faith, appealing to people of all classes. He converted many Huguenots (French Protestants). He also provided for the social needs of those whom he ministered to spiritually. He set up a system of social services, using donations and volunteer workers. He organized prison visitors, nurses, guardians of the poor, a warehouse for the hungry, and a shelter for wayward women. Regis had to suffer slander from some of his enemies; but most people accepted him for what he was.

Father Regis was a gifted preacher and was known throughout F…

St. Germaine Cousin: Patron of People with Disabilities and Victims of Abuse

Today, June 15 is the feast day of St. Germaine Cousin, a simple and devout young girl who lived in Pibrac, France in the late 1500s. She was born in 1579 to a humble family. Her father was a farmer, and her mother died when she was still an infant. She was born with a deformed right arm and hand, as well as the disease of scrofula, a tubercular condition.

Her father remarried soon after the death of her mother, but his new wife was repulsed by Germaine's condition. She tormented and neglected Germaine, and taught her siblings to do so as well.

Starving and sick, Germaine was eventually kicked out of the house and forced to sleep under the stairway in the barn, on a pile of leaves and twigs, because of her stepmother’s dislike of her and disgust of her disability. Nevertheless, Germaine tended to the family's flock of sheep everyday.

Despite her suffering, she lived each day full of thanksgiving and joy, and spent much of her time praying the Rosary and teaching the village c…

Eye on the Sky

Missing her, but praying for her intercession in so many things now.

St. Anthony of Padua: Doctor of the Church, Hammer of the Heretics, Wonder-Worker

By Jean M. Heimann

St. Anthony of Padua is a Doctor of the Church, a Franciscan priest called the "Hammer of the Heretics", the "Wonder-Worker", and the "Living Ark of the Covenant." Countless conversions, miraculous healings, and powerful preaching were all characteristic of his ministry.

He was born to a noble family in 1195 in Lisbon, Portugal and was baptized Fernando Martins de Bulhões. His parents sent him to be educated by the clergy at the Cathedral of Lisbon.  At the age of 15, he joined the Canons Regular of St. Augustine.  At 17, he transferred to the Abbey of the Holy Cross at Coimba. For a period of eight years, he devoted himself to study and prayer.

When he was 25, Fernando met five Franciscan friars who were on their way to Morocco to serve as missionaries.  Five months later, when the bodies of these five were brought back from Morocco, he expressed an intense desire to suffer martyrdom in a similar manner.  Stirred by their heroic exampl…

Bishop Barron: Porn and the Curse of Total Sexual Freedom

The most recent issue of “Time Magazine” features a fascinating and deeply troubling article on the prevalence of pornography in our culture. Yet neither the author nor anyone that he interviewed or referenced ever spoke of pornography use as something morally objectionable. Until we see that the laws governing sexual behavior, which are often read as “taboos” and invitations to repression, are in fact the manner in which the relation between sex and love is maintained, we'll never find true love.

St. Barnabas, Apostle and Martyr

June 11 is the memorial of St. Barnabas, apostle and martyr.

Barnabas was not one of the original apostles, but was a Levite from Cyprus, originally named Joseph but renamed Barnabas, which means "Son of Encouragement" by them. It was Barnabas who presented St. Paul to the other Apostles when, after his long retreat in Arabia, he came to Jerusalem for the first time after his conversion to submit for Peter's approval the mission to the Gentiles entrusted to him by the Master Himself. He was present with Paul at the Council of Jerusalem (ca. 50). Barnabas was Paul's companion and helper on his first missionary journey and returned with him to Jerusalem, but left him when he set out on his second journey and went to Cyprus. After having converted many souls to Christ, Barnabas died in Cyprus during Nero's reign; tradition has it that he was stoned to death in the year 61. The name of St. Barnabas is mentioned in the Canon of the Mass.

St. Luke described Barnabas a…

7QT: Seven Summer Sizzlers, Super Hot Catholic Books

Here are seven books you will definitely want to include in your summer reading this year:

1. The Four Keys to Everlasting Love by Karee and Manuel Santos -- Catholic Non-fiction 

In The Four Keys to Everlasting Love: How Your Catholic Marriage Can Bring You Joy for a Lifetime, Manuel (Manny) and Karee Santos share the secrets of securing a lifetime of authentic love and mutual joy in marriage. Karee Santos, a marriage columnist, and Dr. Manuel Santos, a psychiatrist who has been counseling couples for more than fifteen years, have teamed up to compose a comprehensive manual which enables couples to find a deep, lasting, and satisfying love through a sacramental marriage. "The Four Keys to Everlasting Love" was written for both engaged couples preparing for marriage as well as couples in all seasons of marriage.

Using real-life stories, biblical principles, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the teachings of St. John Paul II, the Santoses witness to the significance of…